Are you getting overwhelmed in uploading photos and videos to multiple sites, keeping up with updating our status on several sites, keeping up with different instant messaging accounts, and announcing your latest blog post elsewhere?  Keeping up with all this can require lots of attention – or using key services can be streamlined for easier tasks.  Here’s my recommendations for easing the workload:

  1. Ping.fm – a great service to update your status on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Plaxo, and many other sites.  Be sure to get the IM bot and text message options set up for your accounts.
  2. Pixelpipe – a media distribution gateway that allows you to publish text, photo, video and audio files once through Pixelpipe and have the content distributed across over 55 social networks, photo/video sites and blogs, and online storage.  The applications for phones is super helpful on the go.
  3. Tubemogul – single point for deploying uploads to the top video sharing sites, and powerful analytics on who, what, and how videos are being viewed.
  4. Digsby – multiple IM client that lets you chat with all your friends on AIM, MSN, Yahoo, ICQ, Google Talk, and Jabber with one simple to manage buddy list.  It also alerts you of events like new messages and gives you a live Newsfeed of what your friends are up to.
  5. ClickToAdd.Me – Retaggr’s easy way to share all your social media accounts with one link
  6. SocialMarker – designed to reduce the time and effort needed to socially bookmark a website.  Note: don’t self-promote excessively
  7. Article Submitter – while not free, it is a recommended service to submit your articles to multiple sites at once.
  8. Twitterfeed – feed your blog to twitter, identi.ca, HelloTxt or Ping.fm
  9. TweetLater – schedule tweets (like quotes), auto-follow,
  10. Ping-o-matic – pinging your blog notifies search engines that you’ve updated your site and helps you be indexed by search engines.  Most blog engines allow you to set this as an automatic feature when you make a new post.
  11. Import your blog into Facebook notes and LinkedIn’s RSS or Blog applications – it will automatically publish itself there when you update

Remember – while automating these services helps your time management – it should free up time for you to interact and connect with people.  Being the loudest at the social media party isn’t the goal here.

To keep your business operating, what additional businesses do you need to connect with?

  • printers
  • web hosts
  • graphic designers
  • electric
  • plumbing

Businesses need each other to build their own business. Mutually beneficial relationships help both businesses expand their success.   This is the basic premise behind attending Chamber of Commerce mixers, or other networking events.

True networking online

With sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook we can now meet and connect online.  Just showing up in these places is not enough.  Do you have a plan and a purpose for your time there?

LinkedIn is primarily business to business, or also seen as a business formal platform. While here,  the Q&A area is a great way to give value to others.  Find questions to answer.  Be more interested benefiting them than announcing yourself.  You will stand out.

Facebook started as strictly social fun,  and many still prefer to keep it that way.  Others see it as business networking exclusively and don’t build much personal interaction.  As Facebook is seen as business casual, we want a happy balance of both.  This  a great way to connect with others, beginn chatting, and move to a phone call.

Twitter is the constand cocktail party.  You can make up all your own rules as to how and why you show up here.  (See previous post:  Calvinball). Sites like Twellow and Wefollow are directories to find connections in specific places.  It is like the yellow pages for Twitter listings.

But I want to do business with someone I know or is referred to me

When you are searching for a new hair stylist or barber, you likely ask others “who do you go to”. The same principles can apply online.  In his program, “Endless Referrals“, Bob Burg shares principles on building your business using referrals.    By being more interested in them, you make them stand out.  To follow up, The Go-Giver, provides great insight into being more focused on giving value to others.  If your true intention is to promote others and make them look good, you are a great value connecting them to things that help further their business.

How does this work online?  The same principles still apply.  A few months ago I attended BarCampHarrisburg.  I learned about it through Twitter.  While there, I met a few great people in different aspects of web development than I offer.  I followed them on Twitter promptly.  We’ve since met at Tweetups, a networking event of other Twitter users. Now I find myself working with a client that may be in need of services that others I’ve met online and later in person can provide.  I want to refer business this way.  I asked them about their services, and have established a degree of relationship with these individuals.  I’ve asked them how I can refer business to them, and I’ve watched how they are representing themselves and clients online.

Also, I have asked others – what are you looking for? Projects, jobs, new clients, and referrals are things many people need.  By knowing what others seek,  I am more aware of how to refer others to them or refer them to potential clients or employers.

Twitter is constantly changing, evolving, and growing based upon how the community uses it.  There are plenty of opinions to be found on how it should be used as well.

Auto-follow and Direct messaging Etiquette:

Mari Smith shares why she chooses to auto-follow, but not to direct message.  The initial hand picked group that you wish to follow can be a way to find great people while avoiding spam bots.  Once you’ve reached a certain volume of people following you, you may find it overwhelming to keep up with following them back.

Direct messaging can be handled in a few ways.  Many take the stance that no automatic welcome direct message is appropriate as too many people have abused this policy by sending links to get their free ebook or other self-promotional items.  Some feel a welcome message that asks others a question is great.  And some, just block all the DMs using services like Jesse Stay’s SocialToo or Tweetlater.  Both services are great for filtering services, and Tweetlater still allows you to send an automatic welcome direct message.  Use caution on your approach and what it says about you.

My opinion – autofollow and a welcome message that invites others to strike up conversation and connect further.  As Bob Burg has taught me,  be more interested in them by asking them questions about themselves.  I currently am asking questions in my automated follow, and giving a link to my online profile of all my social network accounts at http://ClickToAdd.Me/CourtneyEngle.

Should you follow everyone that follows you?

Robert Scoble feels that it is worthwhile.  However, there is no realistic expectation to read every single tweet. He values following everyone that follows him, but filtering through the noise using Tweetdeck.& Friendfeed‘s search features.

To maximize your time in Tweetdeck, see this guide from Richard Barley: All your TweetDeck Questions Answered

Randy Gage, on the other hand, is much more selective about who and why he follows some individuals.  He wants to have a more personal connection and not be overwhelmed in content that isn’t beneficial.

My choice: follow most everyone that follows me.  I use Tweetlater to accomplish this.  I unfollow those that unfollow me automatically as well.  My reason – I sort through those that I specifically want to read into columns in Tweetdeck.  I connect with others when I see general chat, quotes to forward, or links to share and respond to.  This is how I choose to connect in Twitter, and it works for me.  I want to connect with others, but know that I don’t need to always chat constantly with you.  When either of us have something to share or connect about, we will interact.  This method has led me into two recent large business ventures, a few great recomendations for activities, and reconnecting with long lost friends. Eventually we move a meaningful connection beyond Twitter to the phone or other networks and instant messaging clients.

What will you Tweet about?

Average

Twitter is like being at a business mixer, cocktail party, and school dance all at the same time.  You can connect with friends and chat.  We want to see some of that. You can create business connections and ask how to refer business to each other.  You can share quotes, repeat or retweet each others messages, and you can share links.  But, please don’t be the wallflower at the 8th grade dance that just watches everyone else having fun.  Join in.  You have value to offer to the network you are building.  Share what matters to you, professional and off-the-clock work.

Ever notice how many people offer up their rendition of rules for Twitter?

  • Follow everyone back
  • Only follow selectively
  • Reply to everyone
  • Don’t self-promote
  • Tell us when you make a new blog post
  • Send a welcome messasge
  • Don’t send an automatic welcome message
  • Personally connect to each follower
  • Follow as many people as you can

The list can go on an on.  It reminds me of Calvin & Hobbes playing Calvinball.  To outsiders may not quickly comprehend this game, but once you play you’re hooked.

The rules of Calvinball are pretty simple. You can make them up as you go, and are not required to inform other players that they even exist. All areas can be in bounds, and any gear is acceptable to use.  The goal is entirely your choice, and scoring makes no sense that I can determine.

Two years ago when I started Twittering, there was no reply feature. Based upon our use, we created the reply.  Then we created hashtags to track events and groups. We started to share links, and use other software to read our Tweets – even on our phones. (Tweetdeck & Twittelator are my faves)  We’ve synced Twitter to Facebook and repeated what each other has said for all to see (RT).  We’ve changed the game as we go.

We can now follow public figures, companies, news agencies, friends, and even dogs.  You can search for your products or brands.  Each entity may have its own strategy for how to use Twitter.  Your approach is uniquely your own.  Are you joining the party to chat, promote, help others, network, or just lurk?  Do you want to post things automatically now or on a schedule?

Use Twitter how you want, and have fun changing how we use it.  What would you like to see Twitter do next?

Thanks to WaywardMedic for inspiring this post.

calvinball